It's been a very tough day.
It started yesterday, when I was at my sewing table and heard this very strange noise from the backyard.
I walked out there and waited, staring at the chicken coop, and sure enough, saw and heard Rosemary crow. There was no mistaking it. This was not a hen noise. It was an honest to goodness, sing up the sun, wake the dead, cockadoodledoo.
For a split second I was elated. My little boy! Growing up! It was this gorgeous, throaty, wonderful green grass and blue sky sound. Fantastic.
And then, my heart sank because I knew the implications. Rosemary is a boy, a rooster, and that means he has to go.
Why did it have to be my favorite? Why did it have to be the funniest, friendliest, most personable of the bunch? Why Rosemary?
I sent out notices to all our homeschooling email groups, and checked Craigslist, thinking that it might take me some time to find a new home for our guy.
It didn't. Within a couple of hours we found the best solution we could possibly hope for.
A nice family that runs an art studio on acreage, not too far from us, was willing to take him. They have a white turkey, guineas, peafowl, and lots of chickens. They also have children and don't mind if we visit.
And so, through many tears, we began our goodbyes.
We talked a lot about all the reasons we love Rosemary. We considered changing his name, but Ryder would have none of it. We talked about how roosters need room to roam and space to crow in, and how many new friends and how much fun he will have. We tried to look on the bright side – he will be well cared for, and we will be able to visit.
We held him and snuggled him, A LOT.
I could see that it was going to be really important to help my grieving men work through saying goodbye, so we made it Rosemary Day – a celebration of our love for him, and for his new life.
We gave him some special treats (toast and strawberry tops), and saved some of his feathers in bottles.
We took lots of pictures of him and had some printed. Then, we painted and decorated special frames for each of their rooms. (In this first one, Ryder is putting a kiss on Rosemary's beak.)
We even took a cast of his foot.
When it finally came time to take him to his new abode, my boys were excited for their fella.
They were sad, sure, but a happy for him too, and I guess that's the best you can hope for in a goodbye.
When we got home, my oldest went out to check on the remaining girls. I peeked out there and heard him praying, "Please God, look out for Rosemary. Keep him safe and help him make new friends." It was all I could do to hold it together.
And now, now that they are all tucked in and sleeping, I'm going to go and sit down with a glass of wine and have myself a good cry.
Ridiculous, I know. Silly, sure.
I'm sure all the real farmers out there will have a good laugh over this sappy city girl and her foolish attachment to a chicken. But there it is. I miss my beautiful, sweet, lovable Rosemary.